Review: Of Her Time @ Queen Margaret Union
Views Editor Rothery Sullivan shares all about STAG’s foray into cryogenics…
Of Her Time, a science-fiction production by Student Theatre at Glasgow (STAG), had its opening night at the Queen Margaret Union (QMU) on 29 November 2021. Written by Glasgow University student Jonas Laursen, the play follows a woman’s journey with cryogenics as she experiences grief and is forced to face the reality of what truly matters in her life. The play begins with the success of a cryogenics trial, which results in the study being moved to humans. Neurosurgeon Rosemary, played by Nefeli Stoikopoulou, is a wife and mother. When she is diagnosed with incurable stage four gastric stomach cancer, Rosemary decides to undergo cryogenics with the hope of returning to her family when a cure is discovered. However, when she wakes up, she discovers that she has been frozen for over 120 years and that everyone she loved is dead. The play shows others like Rosemary who struggle to adapt to the time travel-like experience. By the end, they learn to accept the present rather than focus on the past.
“Written by Glasgow University student Jonas Laursen, the play follows a woman’s journey with cryogenics as she experiences grief and is forced to face the reality of what truly matters in her life.”
For a student production, Of Her Time was decent. The costumes were phenomenal, with the colour schemes matching the sets and tone of the play. Many of the black, white and grey costumes supported the futuristic sci-fi genre, and the colourful outfits that were worn portrayed the peppiness of the characters. The sets were simple but just enough – they provided the perfect amount of information creating a setting that was relevant but not distracting. I also appreciated the innovative lighting – purple and blue lights flashed on the stage while beeping boomed through the speakers to portray the passage of time while the characters were cryogenically frozen.
I was impressed by the acting in the production, specifically with Joshua Mitchell, who played the characters Gilbert, Martin, and a VR salesman. Each character performance was not only convincing but had the perfect amount of drama, humour and emotion. I also found Marie Boje-Larsen’s acting effective, with her ability to switch between juxtaposing characters. Her biggest role, Simmons, was eccentric, enthusiastic and manipulative – with only a few scenes, Boje-Larsen portrayed this character colourfully and humorously, getting quite a few laughs from the audience.
“Her biggest role, Simmons, was eccentric, enthusiastic and manipulative – with only a few scenes, Boje-Larsen portrayed this character colourfully and humorously…”
However, I did find a few major flaws in the production. My biggest critique is the lack of realism in the story, as it distanced me as a viewer. This science-fiction story focuses on the theme of science vs humanity, but it lacks the realistic elements that should represent humanity. Because the “humanity” aspect didn’t feel authentic, I was not invested in the conflict. A lot of the dialogue between Rosemary and those who had undergone the cryogenics process felt inorganic, despite the bonds they had supposedly made with each other.
Many plot holes throughout the story were never explained, which left me confused and frustrated with the lack of logic. Rosemary’s family’s reaction to her decision to undergo cryogenic treatment was not realistic. Furthermore, the expense of the cryogenic treatment was ignored, despite it being explicitly stated that the family of the patients would be billed annually for the treatment. I was most taken aback by a scene in which Rosemary receives a short, non-detailed letter from her husband that he wrote to her before he died. It does not make sense that he would only leave her a single note after experiencing a lifetime with her. Many aspects of the plot are left unexplained, or even worse, unexplainable.
“Many aspects of the plot are left unexplained, or even worse, unexplainable.”
The story had a lot of extra information that was not needed, including scenes dedicated to the presence of VR that did not add substance to the plot, along with many side-plots that seemed added for the sake of length.
Overall, I think that the story is a great concept that explores time travel in a unique way, but that a 90-minute play was the wrong choice of medium and would have worked better as a short story wherein the focus could stay on the protagonist, Rosemary.
For a student production, this play was charming and creative, but I think that the script and dialogue could’ve been improved. It was obvious how much passion and hard work had gone into the production, which made up for its shortcomings.
Of Her Time is no longer running at STAG, however other Mainstage productions will be happening in the new year which you can check out here.